So this is something that i have been meaning to post for a while now... I primarily blog about fashion but i see my blog also as a diary for myself to look back on and i don't really talk about myself on here a lot. People may think i have a perfect lifestyle but you only see a snippet of the real me, but it couldn't be further from the truth, and no one really knows what i have to live with on a daily basis, so seeing as it is IBS awareness month i thought i would come forward with my story, and also after reading Scarlett London amazing post on the topic which you can read here, it also made me want to talk about my experience with it and to raise awareness of the illness, as well as hopefully being able to reach out to others who suffer from the same thing and know that you aren't alone. I understand not many people will be interested in this but if you are sitting reading this now then thank you!
So what is IBS?
Firstly IBS for those who aren't already aware stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is a common condition of the digestive system and can present a number of digestive related symptoms (i wont go into too much detail here,it differs for everyone). It can also be classed as an invisible illness, i for one have never looked ill from it unless i have had a bad flare up, although the person may not look ill their insides definitely tell a different story. It is also somewhat of a mystery illness, the exact cause of IBS is unknown, but most experts agree it's related to an increased sensitivity of the entire gut, which can occasionally be linked to a prior food-related illness.
These ecards really do make me laugh, you definitely have to make light of the situation in the end!
I really do not know how to begin with this, so i will cut it down to the bare minimum! I had been suffering with crippling stomach pains and cramps (these are NOT the same as period pains!!),unexpected diarrhoea (sorry for the TMI, i still find talking about it particularly embarrassing..),nausea,fatigue and other equally as lovely digestive problems for a good couple of years. However, when i started university it was clear that the student lifestyle was not suited to my body and i believe that i have always had IBS to a certain extent since i was younger , yet it was the alcohol and bad diet that made it evident in my every day life that something was not right and it wasnt going away. Last year i lived in Finland for a year which made it impossible for me to visit a doctors to seek help (they barely spoke English), in February 2013 i had to give up drinking alcohol due to the horrible effects that it left me with, as a student there is a massive pressure to drink alcohol and i still long to feel like a normal student and enjoy a night out, i hate to be the one sat with a soft drink while everyone else enjoys fancy cocktails, but when something makes you so ill i would do anything to stop that. It got to the stage that i was having a few sips of alcohol and would be sick with immediate effect and spend the next day in an awful state. I believe that if i continued to drink i definitely would have become seriously ill and end up in hospital. Anyway, i struggled on for my remaining few months in Finland and at this stage i needed urgent help as i was struggling to cope and i didnt know what was wrong with me, i assumed it could be IBS but you always think the worst, and i am awful for self diagnosing on Google!
So in June i had finally made it to the doctors and after ruling out a few other things i was finally diagnosed with IBS, i was so happy that i finally had a diagnosis and it wasnt something more serious, but IBS although not life threatening is a chronic and debilitating disease,i will have to live with this for the rest of my life. I was prescribed with a medicine called mebeverine which after a week i seriously could not believe how much better i felt, but lets just say it was short lived. IBS medications are somewhat one size fits all, everyone has different symptons and triggers so it is impossible for one drug to treat all. Since then i have had many ups and downs but now i'm just going to fast forward to the start of this year.
I have never spoken about being ill before, although i was slightly absent in January on the blog front due to this. In January i suddenly became very poorly for no reason of which i know. I could barely eat because i felt so sick,my whole stomach was sore to touch, i had agonising cramps and it was even too hard to walk, i was passing blood in the toilet and i had also lost over 2 stone in weight since the summer (doctors never listened to my concerns about my weight and would say it was down to stress), something which most girls dream of but which was my worst nightmare as i now currently fall into the underweight category, so this was a massive cause of concern as i certainly never stint on food and had always weighed around 8-9 stone since i was 15/16! This week was undoubetdly the worst week of my life, i went back and forth to the hospital for yet more tests and more misdiagnoses all while i was so concerned about uni as i am currently in my last and very important year! Again many things were ruled out, and at this point i had no idea that it had anything to do with my IBS. Everything had flared up so badly that i was looking for something more serious to be wrong with me, but the problem pointed to my bowels so again i was wondering what else it could be that was making me so ill. A few weeks passed while i waited to be seen, it does not help how gastrointestinal problems are so common in todays society because it means you have to wait ages to be seen, even as long as 3 weeks if its an urgent case. In the meanwhile i improved a little bit but i was still not right and i was doing my best to continue going to uni in the meanwhile,i also was unable to keep up my training at the pool which is so unlike me. Luckily my friends knew that i wasnt well but none of them truly understood what i was going through as i constantly had to put on a brave face. About a month ago i had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy which was one of the worst and painful experiences i have ever been through, i would not wish that on my worst enemy! I patiently waited a few weeks for the biopsies to come back and luckily the results came back clear of IBD and coeliac disease. I have never understood how an illness so debilitating and painful to a persons insides can then appear completely healthy in a colonoscopy, i think i thought it would be something else because i didnt realise IBS could be so severe, but it is,IBS is a real thing! Dont get me wrong i was so incredibly thankful not to have an even worse illness but there was that part of me that willed it to be something else so i could obtain proper treatment and to have a condition that there is more knowledge about.
Remaining positive and looking to the future
So fast forward to today and i am still struggling by, im currently waiting to see a dietician and my consultant again, as well as trying to finish my degree.But looking back to January i didnt even think i would be able to finish my degree so i am so lucky to have got a little bet better since then. Im currently not taking any medication because i dont see what the point is in putting something into my body everyday for the rest of my life that doesnt work. Im also adusting my diet, i was informed to remove all fruit from my diet and most vegetables which has dramatically improved my stomach movements which is amazing as i am no longer worrying about where the nearest toilet is, although i am still left with daily crippling stomach pains, a lack of appetite, nausea and other digestive issues but i have found one of my worst triggers which is chocolate, i am going to have to cut that out for the forseeable future which is going to be so hard as its fair to say i have an addiction to it, its funny the saying that the things you crave the most are the worst things for you, its is definitely true in my case! Hopefully with the help of a dietician i will also be able to put some much needed weight back on. I would also not be where i am today without the most supportive family and boyfriend as i could not have continued to be as positive about my condition without them. But i am trying my best to get by and as i said before remaining positive, i know i wont be cured in a day but i long for one to be found and to get better in time. IBS has affected so much in my daily life, work wise,socially and in my personal life and it has stopped me from doing so many things that i have wanted to do or previously done in the past, so here is to stopping this chronic stomach condition and to dictating my life anymore!
Well done if you made it to the end, it was a long one!! I really appreciate you reading this! If any of you suffer from similar symptoms do seek help as i wished i had done a long time ago, please get in touch in the comments below or even on my email, if you suffer from IBS i would love to hear from you, it really does help talking to someone who is going through the same thing!
Do you suffer or know someone who suffers from IBS? How do you keep your IBS under control? Do you suffer from a similar illness? Link me up if you have done similar posts to this,lets help raise awareness!